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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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10-1-14 State Board of Education Meeting Today: PARRC on the Agenda...Blue Ribbon Schools Announce

NJ Spotlight - NJ Education Officials Unveil Test Requirements for High-Schoolers to Graduate

John Mooney | October 1, 2014

While plan offers options in lieu of passing PARCC exams, critics say plan breaks promise to delay mandate

 Ever since the Christie administration’s announcement two years ago that it would introduce new high-school testing, there have been questions about exactly what students would need to pass to graduate.

The state Department of Education yesterday started to answer that question with a transition plan for the next four years, offering a menu of options for students starting with the Class of 2016, who are now in their junior year.

Related Links

Graduation Requirements: Class of 2016, 2017 and 2018

Final Report of College and Career Readiness Task Force

The plan calls for requiring graduating students to pass at least one of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests each in math and language arts, but also offers the option of letting students “substitute” a minimum score on the SAT or some other college entrance exam, as well as the option of going through an appeals process using a portfolio of student work.

The options will only be available to students in the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018, after which the state would then decide whether to rely solely on the PARCC tests or keep other options open, officials said.

Starting this spring, the PARCC tests will be given in language arts in 9th, 10th and 11th grades, and three times each after students take Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry, which are also typically studied in 9th, 10th and 11th grades.

“What we’re saying is that in the transition, we are accepting a number of different assessments that a student can take to meet the graduation requirement,” acting Education Commissioner David Hespe said yesterday.

The news came in a memo sent to districts yesterday, and also was announced at a regional convocation that Hespe held with more than 100 school superintendents in Parsippany.

There was not much vocal reaction among the school leaders at the convocation yesterday, with some saying they needed to review the plan further and others saying they welcomed the three-year transition.

But the announcement drew quick rebukes from critics of the state’s testing policy, with some saying the administration was reneging on its own earlier promises not to use the PARCC tests at all as a graduation gauge until as late as 2021.

“The fact that the Department includes ‘substitute’ non-state assessments … and retains an ‘appeals process’ does not negate the fact that the Department is effectively making 'passing' PARCC tests a graduation requirement,” said Stan Karp, a program director at the Education Law Center, in an email message.

He also cited state law that requires districts to notify students of graduation requirements when they enter high school.

“There are numerous other unanswered implications, especially for current (high school) students who will suddenly face new and unproven graduation policies,” Karp wrote.

Hespe, in an interview last night, said that the state was not mandating students pass the new test to graduate as of yet – only that they could use the PARCC to meet the requirement but would have other pathways, too.

For instance, the minimum passing score on the SAT would be a 400 out of the maximum 800, or a 16 out of a maximum 32 on the ACT. The state-approved appeals process where students can provide their classwork or other evidence of mastery has been in place for three years.

“There will be no mandated consequences to the (PARCC) test, but only as a part of a menu,” Hespe said. “And if a student does well on it, why not let them use it?”

Still, the process is sure to spur a lengthy discussion. The state has grappled for years, if not decades, with what to require for graduation, and that debate is unlikely to stop.

Previously, students needed to pass the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) -- a single battery of tests in math and language arts given in junior year -- to gain a diploma, but that came with alternatives as well, including an appeals process.

Gov. Chris Christie and former Education Commissioner Chris Cerf convened a task force in 2011 that proposed the use of end-of-course exams like those in PARCC to replace the HSPA. Hespe, then Cerf’s chief of staff, led the task force.

Former Gov. Jon Corzine convened a task force three years earlier that also supported the end-of-course tests.

It was unclear if the changes will require action by the State Board of Education or statutory changes. State officials said they believed they would not, but that was still under review.

 

NJ Spotlight - 11 Schools in New Jersey Win Coveted Federal ‘Blue Ribbon’ Designation

John Mooney | October 1, 2014

This year’s recipients include eight public schools, two private schools and one charter

 

Eleven New Jersey schools have been designated as National Blue Ribbon Schools in the latest round of an award bestowed by the U.S. Department of Education to high-performing schools.

Among 337 schools recognized nationwide, the New Jersey schools represent a mix from urban and suburban districts, as well as one charter school.

Related Links

National Blue Ribbon Schools Program

Application Submitted by Chatham’s Milton Avenue School

Three of the public schools are career-centered academies in county vocational districts. Two of the New Jersey honorees are private schools.

Private school winners:

  • Assumption School, Morristown
  • St. Gregory the Great Academy, Hamilton Square

Public school winners:

  • Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, Union City
  • Pace Charter School of Hamilton, Hamilton
  • Allied Health & Biomedical Science, Middlesex County Vocational Schools
  • Biotechnology High School, Monmouth County Vocational Schools
  • Milton Avenue School, Chatham
  • Mendham Township Middle School, Mendham Township
  • Performing Arts Academy, Ocean County Vocational Schools
  • Mount Prospect Elementary School, Bernards Township
  • William F. Halloran School #22, Elizabeth.

Public schools must meet one of two criteria to be nominated: exemplary high performance overall, including being among the top 15 percent in the state, or exemplary performance in closing the achievement gap.

The schools are also judged on their goals and vision as presented in their applications. The public schools are initially nominated by the state Department of Education.

“I want to congratulate the students, parents, and educators at these nine high-performing schools for their dedication to excellence and for providing programs that will prepare their students to graduate ready for college and career,” said acting Education Commissioner David Hespe in announcing the public school awards.

Ever since the Christie administration’s announcement two years ago that it would introduce new high-school testing, there have been questions about exactly what students would need to pass to graduate. The state Department of Education yesterday started to answer that question with a transition plan for the next four years, offering a menu of options for students starting with the Class of 2016, who are now in their junior year.

RELATED LINKSGraduation Requirements: Class of 2016, 2017 and 2018Final Report of College and Career Readiness Task Force

The plan calls for requiring graduating students to pass at least one of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests each in math and language arts, but also offers the option of letting students “substitute” a minimum score on the SAT or some other college entrance exam, as well as the option of going through an appeals process using a portfolio of student work.The options will only be available to students in the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018, after which the state would then decide whether to rely solely on the PARCC tests or keep other options open, officials said.

Starting this spring, the PARCC tests will be given in language arts in 9th, 10th and 11th grades, and three times each after students take Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry, which are also typically studied in 9th, 10th and 11th grades.“What we’re saying is that in the transition, we are accepting a number of different assessments that a student can take to meet the graduation requirement,” acting Education Commissioner David Hespe said yesterday.

The news came in a memo sent to districts yesterday, and also was announced at a regional convocation that Hespe held with more than 100 school superintendents in Parsippany. There was not much vocal reaction among the school leaders at the convocation yesterday, with some saying they needed to review the plan further and others saying they welcomed the three-year transition. But the announcement drew quick rebukes from critics of the state’s testing policy, with some saying the administration was reneging on its own earlier promises not to use the PARCC tests at all as a graduation gauge until as late as 2021.

“The fact that the Department includes ‘substitute’ non-state assessments … and retains an ‘appeals process’ does not negate the fact that the Department is effectively making 'passing' PARCC tests a graduation requirement,” said Stan Karp, a program director at the Education Law Center, in an email message.He also cited state law that requires districts to notify students of graduation requirements when they enter high school. “There are numerous other unanswered implications, especially for current (high school) students who will suddenly face new and unproven graduation policies,” Karp wrote.

Hespe, in an interview last night, said that the state was not mandating students pass the new test to graduate as of yet – only that they could use the PARCC to meet the requirement but would have other pathways, too. For instance, the minimum passing score on the SAT would be a 400 out of the maximum 800, or a 16 out of a maximum 32 on the ACT. The state-approved appeals process where students can provide their classwork or other evidence of mastery has been in place for three years.“There will be no mandated consequences to the (PARCC) test, but only as a part of a menu,” Hespe said. “And if a student does well on it, why not let them use it?”Still, the process is sure to spur a lengthy discussion. The state has grappled for years, if not decades, with what to require for graduation, and that debate is unlikely to stop.

Previously, students needed to pass the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) -- a single battery of tests in math and language arts given in junior year -- to gain a diploma, but that came with alternatives as well, including an appeals process. Gov. Chris Christie and former Education Commissioner Chris Cerf convened a task force in 2011 that proposed the use of end-of-course exams like those in PARCC to replace the HSPA. Hespe, then Cerf’s chief of staff, led the task force. Former Gov. Jon Corzine convened a task force three years earlier that also supported the end-of-course tests.It was unclear if the changes will require action by the State Board of Education or statutory changes. State officials said they believed they would not, but that was still under review.

 

NJ Spotlight - 11 Schools in New Jersey Win Coveted Federal ‘Blue Ribbon’ Designation

by John Mooney | October 1, 2014

This year’s recipients include eight public schools, two private schools and one charterEleven New Jersey schools have been designated as National Blue Ribbon Schools in the latest round of an award bestowed by the U.S. Department of Education to high-performing schools. Among 337 schools recognized nationwide, the New Jersey schools represent a mix from urban and suburban districts, as well as one charter school.

RELATED LINKSNational Blue Ribbon Schools ProgramApplication Submitted by Chatham’s Milton Avenue SchoolThree of the public schools are career-centered academies in county vocational districts. Two of the New Jersey honorees are private schools.

Private school winners: • Assumption School, Morristown • St. Gregory the Great Academy, Hamilton SquarePublic school winners: • Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, Union City• Pace Charter School of Hamilton, Hamilton• Allied Health & Biomedical Science, Middlesex County Vocational Schools• Biotechnology High School, Monmouth County Vocational Schools• Milton Avenue School, Chatham• Mendham Township Middle School, Mendham Township• Performing Arts Academy, Ocean County Vocational Schools• Mount Prospect Elementary School, Bernards Township• William F. Halloran School #22, Elizabeth.

Public schools must meet one of two criteria to be nominated: exemplary high performance overall, including being among the top 15 percent in the state, or exemplary performance in closing the achievement gap. The schools are also judged on their goals and vision as presented in their applications. The public schools are initially nominated by the state Department of Education.“I want to congratulate the students, parents, and educators at these nine high-performing schools for their dedication to excellence and for providing programs that will prepare their students to graduate ready for college and career,” said acting Education Commissioner David Hespe in announcing the public school awards.t


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828